Op-Ed: Why Sports Broadcasters Are Turning to the Cloud for Playout

Sep 28 2021

Published on SVG News here

When it comes to effectively managing TV playout, there are many challenges broadcasters are faced with, including having to meet tight schedules and deadlines. Therefore, it is important to have the right technologies in place to ensure broadcast-quality viewing experiences.

Cloud playout is fast becoming an increasingly popular option. The cloud is not a recent phenomenon, but its potential has not been recognized until now. In the ever-changing world of broadcasting, where just a minute of downtime can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the cloud is proving to be a reliable extra option for live transmission.

The juggernaut of sports broadcasting is no exception to this. With audiences in their millions, concentrating deeply on every phase of play, moving to the cloud could hold the key to future success. With the cloud becoming an increasing feature in playout workflows, broadcasters are in a better position to gain the flexibility needed to quickly and efficiently get a live sports event on-air in the most cost-effective way.

Cloud-based services finding new levels of reliability
A broadcast operator needs to ensure that all operations are providing the flexibility required to effectively manage any uncertainty under circumstances that may be out of their control. The cloud brings a new level of flexibility, which explains why many broadcasters today are eager to move at least some of their operations in that direction.

This is quite a change from a few years ago. Originally, cloud playout systems were not built for real-time low-latency transmission environments that broadcasters face every day. Cloud playout has always had the advantage of being able to scale quickly but lacked the reliability, and low latency capabilities demanded of live sports.

However, the cloud now offers a stable, high-quality, low-latency delivery that is on par with the benefits provided by the more traditional on-premise playout solutions. This has become clear to broadcasters over the last year or so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cloud allows them to spin up back-up operations quickly and easily from a remote location.

With these boxes checked, sports broadcasters are leveraging the cloud’s ability to scale up and down as required making it perfect for major one-off sporting events like the Olympics. Cloud playout will also be essential in supporting sports events that are happening week-in, week-out.

What benefits the cloud can bring
Arguably the most evident benefit is the cost-effective nature of the cloud, which at a time when budgets are tighter than ever, provides a low barrier to entry through an OPEX model as opposed to the CAPEX intensive deployment of an on-premise solution.  With a cloud playout solution, broadcasters can benefit from reduced up-front spending on infrastructure, storage, networking, and security, as well as a greater reduction in operational costs and maintenance.

Sports broadcasters will also want to consider the advantages of disaster recovery channels. In order to ensure business continuity, a cloud-based backup is a useful addition to a main hardware-based playout in the event of a bad weather event, for example. And it is this benefit that has proved most popular during the pandemic. Cloud playout gives broadcasters a great, cost-effective alternative to their main playout operations.

The cloud is fast becoming an essential part of sports delivery, whether it is the Super Bowl or the World Series. It allows broadcasters to spin up backup operations quickly and easily from a remote location, paving the way for a greater expansion of infrastructure. Today, broadcasters have more flexibility than ever to access fully featured, cloud-based solutions that are robust enough to handle the growing requirements posed by the demand of providing live sports content.

What the future holds
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to playout operations, but with more and more broadcasters now adapting and embracing new cloud-based working environments, the cloud is an option for them that is not going to go away.

The cloud will become the logical destination for many over time, living side-by-side with existing on-premise playout. The more broadcasters are willing to learn from the cloud and take advantage of its benefits, the more It will enable them to successfully mitigate a continuously changing and challenging market.